The Material World of Eyre Hall

GBP £74.95



ISBN: 978-1-911282-91-4

448 Pages

279 x 229 mm (9 x 11 in)

400 colour illustrations

In association with the Maryland Center for History and Culture, Baltimore

September 2021


A microhistory of 400 years of southern USA history told in the study of one place, Eyre Hall on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.

“Some readers will see this book as a companion to The Chesapeake House, the magisterial account of early Tidewater architecture. It is that and more. With its focus on a single house and its remarkably preserved collection, it sets a new standard for scholarship on house museums, though its subject is a private home. Thanks to this beautiful book, Eyre Hall finally has the wider audience that it deserves.”—Jeffrey E. Klee, Vice President and Senior Director of Architecture, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust

“The Material World of Eyre Hall goes far beyond chronicling four centuries at a well preserved private residence on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  Baldwin and Lounsbury bring together a who’s who of American material culture historians to offer a compelling portrait of life in the Chesapeake.  The eloquent introduction and history of the Eyre family coupled with first-hand accounts of those who lived and worked at Eyre Hall provide a valuable context for understanding the extraordinary buildings, landscape, and household objects that survive to tell its history.”—Carol B. Cadou, Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

“This work is a rare confluence of a historic place, objects, and people captivating readers with a compelling historical narrative that spans over 350 years. In addition to the remarkable objects passed down from one generation to the next, it is also a legacy that entwines landowners, enslaved, freedmen, and servants. Their stories are here too- and rightfully so. The richness found in these pages surpasses much of what we see and hear at public historic house museums and sites.”—Christy S. Coleman, Executive Director, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

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Erected in 1759 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Eyre Hall is still occupied by descendants of its builder. It retains a rich variety of objects from furniture and books to silver and paintings acquired by the family, reflecting the tastes and aspirations of its many different generations. Only a small handful of places in Virginia can claim such continuity. The material culture of Eyre Hall illustrates the everchanging meanings of this place in American culture from the seventeenth- through the twenty-first century. It represents the cultural endeavours of southern society that was built on slavery and suffered the tribulations of wars, emancipation, and economic depressions.

This study explores the mutability of this inheritance in the wake of such transformative events. The book is divided into four sections. The first recounts the history of those who lived at Eyre Hall. The second examines the architecture of the house and its service buildings. The third explores the formal garden. The fourth section is a catalogue raisonné of its objects.

Carl R. Lounsbury, Editor
With an Introduction by Cary Carson, and contributions by Laura Pass Barry, Bennie Brown, Edward A. Chappell, Sam Florer, Erik Goldstein, Haley Hoffman, Neal T. Hurst, Angelika R. Kuettner, Mark B. Letzer, Carl R. Lounsbury, George W. McDaniel, Katie McKinney, Elizabeth Palms, Margaret Pritchard, Sumpter Priddy, Will Rieley, Alexandra Rosenberg, Gary Stanton, Robert Watkins, and John Watson

Author biographies

Carl R. Lounsbury, Senior Architectural Historian, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (retired), Adjunct Associate Professor of History, College of William and Mary.

Dr. Cary Carson is Senior Vice President of Research at Colonial Williamsburg, retired.

Table of contents

  1. Acknowledgments by Carl R. Lounsbury
  2. Foreword by J. Thomas Savage
  3. Eyreloom: An Introduction by Cary Carson
    I. The Changing Fortunes of the Eyre family through four centuries
  4. Chapter 1 • Golden Quarter by Carl R. Lounsbury
    Eyreville: Archaeology of the Late Seventeenth Century by Haley Hoffman
  5. Chapter 2 • Eyre Hall: Power House by Carl R. Lounsbury
    Working the Land by Sam Florer
  6. Chapter 3 • The Bounty of Eyre Hall: From Working Plantation to Summer Retreat in the Long Nineteenth Century by Carl R. Lounsbury
    Escaping Enslavement by Whaleboat, 1832 by Alexandra Rosenberg
    Health Retreats and Pleasure Grounds by Robert Watkins
    Hoofprints by Elizabeth Palms
  7. Chapter 4 • Eyre Hall in the Twentieth Century: “I’m Home” by George w. McDaniel
    A Scrapbook of Recollections by Those Who Called Eyre Hall “Home” by George W. McDanielII
    II. Architecture
  8. The Architecture of the House by Carl R. Lounsbury
    Architectural Hardware by Edward A. Chappell
    Wallpaper by Margaret Pritchard
  9. Domestic Service Buildings by Carl R. Lounsbury
  10. Home Farm: Overseer’s House by Carl R. Lounsbury
    III. Landscape
  11. Garden and Grounds by Will Rieley
  12. Green-house by Will Rieley
  13. Graveyard by Carl R. Lounsbury
    IV. Catalogue
  14. Furniture by Sumpter Priddy
  15. Silver by Mark B. Letzer
  16. Ceramics by Robert Hunter and Angelika R. Kuettner
  17. Glass by Angelika R. Kuettner
  18. Paintings by Laura Pass Barry
  19. Maps by Katie McKinney
  20. Prints by Katie McKinney
  21. Books by Bennie Brown
  22. Musical Instruments by John Watson
  23. Sheet Music by Gary Stanton
  24. Costume and Textiles by Neal T. Hurst
  25. Ironwork and Arms by Erik Goldstein
  26. Index
  27. Photo Credits